The Merton C. Flom Ezell Fellowship in Leadership

Merton Clyde Flom is a former Ezell Fellow, a former Academy President, and an academic leader of our profession in every sense. His passion for training, research, and leadership has led the Flom family to make significant lead pledges to establish an Ezell Fellowship with an emphasis on leadership, hopefully to include participation in courses and an internship.

Mert and his wife Pene, Mert’s daughter Roanne and son-in-law Tom Raasch, and Mert’s son Walt and daughter-in-law Gail all pledged their support for the fund. Friends of Mert have also pledged substantial support with the goal of reaching the $200,000 to endow the Fellowship. We invite all Academy Fellows, former students, clinicians, patients and friends who were touched by Mert’s influence and passion to support the fund by making a pledge or a one-time gift. 

Mert passed away February 14, 2010 of heart failure. Born August 19, 1926 in Pittsburgh, PA to Samuel Jacob and Marie Flom, Mert and his family moved to the west coast when he was ten. He graduated from Los Angeles High School, served in the Navy in World War II (in Guam), and attended UCLA and UC Berkeley, ultimately receiving an optometry degree and a PhD in vision science.

At Berkeley, Mert received support from an Ezell Fellowship and a grant from the American Academy of Optometry. The first faculty member in Optometry at UC Berkeley to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he continued to receive NIH support for 25 years, primarily for his research on binocular vision, strabismus, and amblyopia. During his 29 years at Berkeley, Mert indulged his passion for teaching as an instructor for vision science and clinical optometry courses. Known as a superb educator and mentor of graduate students, Mert also cared for patients in teaching clinics and private practice. He then accepted an opportunity at the University of Houston to develop the graduate program at their College of Optometry.

Leadership studies and application of its practice were a focus of Mert’s academic life. Active as a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, Mert was editor of the Academy’s journal and chair of its editorial council; he also served on the Academy’s executive council for 16 years and as president for two years. Mert’s consuming interest in developing new leaders led to the Academy’s Leadership InSight program.

Recognitions from the American Academy of Optometry included Fellowship; Honorary Diplomate of the Section on Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry; Eminent Service Award; Prentice Medal for distinguished research in vision science; and Life Membership. Mert received an honorary doctorate from SUNY; the Glenn Fry Medal from OSU; and Alumnus of the Year and the inaugural Mert Flom Teaching Award from the UC Optometry Alumni Association. He was inducted into the Berkeley and the National Optometry Halls of Fame. The Merton Flom Ezell Fellowship Fund was established in his honor by the American Optometric Foundation to support training in vision science and leadership.

After retiring to Tucson AZ, Mert enjoyed presenting occasional lectures, publishing his research, and viewing the Catalina Mountains outside his window. Qualities that epitomized Mert were his ability to instantly engage with new people, his insatiable curiosity, and his energy for investigating and exploring ideas with colleagues, family, and most everyone he met. He is remembered for his love of food, jazz, and animals, his keen focus, his championing of “underdogs,” his commitment to social justice, his generosity in teaching and mentoring, and his ultimate optimism.

Mert is survived by wife Penelope Kegel Flom; sister Patricia Barkan and brother-in-law Harvey Barkan of Studio City CA; son Walter Flom and daughter-in-law Gail Fadenrecht of Phoenix AZ; daughter Roanne Flom and son-in-law Thomas Raasch of Columbus OH; daughter Caitlin Flom and son-in-law Jeffrey Carnegie of Berkeley CA; daughter Megan Flom of Lewisville TX; and grandchildren Zachary Flom, Hannah Fadenrecht, and Alexa Raasch. He is predeceased by parents, first wife Bernice Flom Warnken, and sister Carole Loftis.

The family requests donations in his honor be made either to the Merton C. Flom Ezell Fellowship in Leadership Fund or to the Martin Luther King, Jr National Memorial (www.mlkmemorial.org). 

Or use the pledge form (PDF format) to make a contribution to the Merton Flom Ezell Fellowship Fund.

Merton C. Flom Ezell Leadership Fellows:

2016:  Anna F. Ablamowicz
2015:  Jillian F. Meadows
2013:  William Scott Tuten
2012:  Andrew Pucker
2011:  Nicole Carnt
2009:  Bradley Dougherty